Medani P. Bhandari, PhD, Professor, Akamai University, Hilo, HI. USA; Sumy State University, Ukraine
This paper summarizes the arguments and counterarguments within the scientific discussion on the issue of tourist vehicles negative impacts on vegetation biomass, structure, soil infiltration and sensitivity through Off the Road Drive to have closer view of the big five-wildlife of Masai Mara National Reserve, Narok, Kenya. Tourism has been considered as eco-friendly and sustainable business in the contemporary world. Tourists can enjoy the nature and culture and can learn about roles of various ecosystems and biodiversity as well as the cultural heritage of biophysical and socio-cultural environment. In recent decades, the national parks have been considered major attractions to national and international visitors, who love to see the wonder of the wilderness (wildlife, biodiversity, natural and cultural heritage). Through such tourism, the government and local as well as visitor get mutual benefit. However, there is always pros and cons of any activity, if such activities are not managed properly. The main purpose of the research is to show, how tourists willingness (tours operators motive to make tourist happy) to have closer look of big five (African elephant, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceros) leads off-road driving and how off-road driving can damage the savanna grass ecosystem of Masai Mara ecosystem. Systematization literary sources and approaches for solving the problem is only possible, when such off-road driving is banned. The area where off-road driving is banned since last eight years indicates that damaged area can be improved, however, duration of compacted soil to be normal may take several years. The relevance of the decision of this scientific problem is that off-road driving has negative impact on both fauna and flora. Investigation of the topic Impact of Tourism of Off Road Driving on Vegetation Biomass in the paper is carried out in the following logical sequence: The paper is based on experimental research design and ground truthing. Methodological tools of the research methods were transects approach for the biomass sampling from various sample sites generated randomly and vegetation cover percentages, grass species composition, species sensitivity were measured using appropriate tools. Similarly, surface sealing, soil texture, soil compaction, and water infiltration were measured and compared in the areas where off-road driving was going on (when research was conducted), off-road driving was closed since last one or two years and eight years or more. The object of research is the chosen by researchers own interests. The paper presents the results of an empirical analysis, which showed that different observations and measurements showed that off-road driving has strongly (negative) significant impact, which has decreased vegetation biomass. Compared to ORD impact, other environmental factors do not have a significant impact. The results also showed that management (area closure for ORD) has a significant positive impact on the improvement of the damaged area. However, it was found that the vegetation recovery after the closure for ORD was very slow. The research empirically confirms and theoretically proves that off-road driving has negative impact on soil and vegetation. The results of the research can be useful for the proper management of national parks and wildlife reserves as well gives new insights to the park tourism industry.
Keywords: tourism, off road driving, biomass, impact, closed and open areas.
JEL Classification: L83.
Cite as: Bhandari, M. P. (2018). Impact of Tourism of Off Road Driving on Vegetation Biomass, a Case Study of Masai Mara National Reserve, Narok, Kenya. SocioEconomic Challenges, 3(2), 6-25. DOI: 10.21272/sec.3(2).6-25.2018
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